Cloud Computing: What is it and Why Should I Use it?

What is the cloud? And why you should be working with it.

It seems like everything is in “the cloud” these days. You upload your pictures and music to the cloud. You save important documents in the cloud and clients invite you to download their files from the cloud. There are countless cloud services out there and it seems like every app has some connection to “the cloud.” If all of this leaves you feeling like your head is in the cloud, we’re here to help.

When you upload something to the cloud it is put into a pool of data. This pool is sorted logically into groups. i.e. music, and pictures gets its own group etc. These groups are then physically stored across multiple servers and sometimes even different locations. These cloud storage environments are normally owned by a hosting company. These hosting companies are responsible for keeping data available 24/7 and making sure that the environment is secure both physically and digitally.

How did it get that name? Well, back in the day, tech people like us would create network diagrams and flowcharts that showed the internet as a puffy white cloud that connected to a router and fed data to servers and computer systems.
The cloud computing most people are familiar with is personal cloud computing. If you’re using online apps, photo and music sharing and document storage, you’re using the cloud. But there is another kind of cloud computing that relates to businesses.  The three broad business uses are Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). 

The most common cloud solution for businesses is Software as a Service. With SaaS, your business subscribes to an application that you access over the internet. For example, if your team utilizes services like Microsoft Office 365, Google Apps or DocuSign, you’re using SaaS.  There are also custom Software as a Service solutions available that are tailored to your company’s specific needs. With SaaS, your users can access the software at any time, from any where, and often with any device as long as it has an internet connection. This gives you the advantage of doing the same business inside and outside the office.

Using Platform as a Service allows your company to develop, run and manage applications without building and maintaining the infrastructure typically associated with system setup and management. And Infrastructure as a Service is where large providers like Amazon and Google provide space that can be rented out by other companies.

So what are the advantages of working in the cloud? They are numerous and include:

  • Flexibility: As we said before, by working in the cloud, you’re able to work anywhere, at any time. If you forgot your laptop at the office but have to finalize details on that report for tomorrow morning, no problem. With your files and software accessible in the cloud, you can work from your home computer or the nearest coffee house.
  • Automatic Updates: Because the servers are being maintained somewhere else, you don’t have to worry about the time spent maintaining and updating the system and installing the latest security updates. And if you do need to update software on your machine, the upgrades are available to all users at the same time.
  • Team Collaboration: With the ability to access your data at any time, on nearly any device, your team has the advantage of working together in real time. This can greatly improve productivity and project outcomes.
  • It Costs Less: Without the extra expense of your data centers and servers, you’re spending less on hardware, utilities and maintenance fees which more than makes up for the cost of most cloud computing solutions. 
  • Disaster Recovery: No matter the size of your business you should have a disaster recovery process implemented. The cloud makes this easy, affordable, and accessible to all companies.
  • It’s Environmentally Friendly: As you’re sharing resources with other companies and reducing your own usage, you’re only using the energy you actually need to run your systems and reducing your own carbon footprint. And everybody appreciates that.

If you’re looking to make the move to the cloud, we can help you find just the right solution for your company’s needs. As leading providers of SaaS solutions, we have the insights you need to make the transition to a flexible solution that will help you focus more on things that matter, like growing your business.